July 17, 2019 | 92° F

JAWED: Syrian war is not civil, but international

Opinions Column: If Not Our Own, Then Someone's


As witnesses to the atrocities of the Syrian crisis, it is crucial to raise this simple question: Does anybody have a plan? A real plan, beyond self-interest and maintaining alliances? A real plan that actually ends this international war subjecting Syrian civilians to torment and abuse?

If we take out the Syrians who are the actual and direct victims of warfare, there are quite a few parties who are set up to gain something from Syria's "civil" war. At the cost of brutal mass murder? Apparently, that is acceptable. 

What originally started as the Syrian regime's response to the Arab Spring protests resulted in a civil war now being used as the front for several underlying conflicts. There are multiple wars going on in Syria that have evolved because the backdrop of the actual civil war has constantly been used as the excuse to dismiss the involvement of major international players

Russia and Iran are allies of President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime against the Syrian population supplying money, military aid and advisors. The U.S is involved to fight off ISIS, so it is supporting the armed rebel groups. Syrian Kurds  are have received support from Iraq and Turkey but are still at odds with the latter. In the midst of all this, Turkey is against Iran, which is against America, and ISIS is against all these groups. In addition, the European Union and NATO are also on occasion using force. The civil war is now only a layer of this multifaceted conflict. 

This is an international war. And there is no one fighting for the innocent Syrian civilians. 

Every group here is essentially following a personal agenda, which determines which side of the war it is on. Syria, especially because it is already in a state of turmoil, is being used as a platform for non-Syrians to assert dominance by partaking in this "civil" war. But according to legal terminology, the Syrian crisis does not qualify as an international conflict. 

There have been instances such as when the Turkish army shot down the Russian plane or when, that the world was on the edge of its seat ready for a world war. But the incidents were not intended or announced as declarations of war, so there is technically no international war because no two states are at war with each other even though all states are at war with each other in Syria. 

Everybody is basically shooting at everybody, but no two states are directly shooting at each other. They have proxies that are shooting at other governments, but no state is shooting at each other directly. The unintended victims caught in the crossfire of the Syrian crisis have been suffering every day for the past seven years, and until these other conflicts being fueled by the civil war are resolved, they will continue to do so. Syrian casualties are deemed collateral damage and not the intended target so there has been an abuse of legal terminology in order to distort what is actually going on. 

Is it really the Russian veto or the lack of will that stopped America from issuing a no-fly zone? Is there anyone willing to interpose their forces between the Syrian regime and the civilian population? 

This is an international war. 

The beginning of February marked a deadly demonstration of the world war going on inside of Syria. America, Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as forces loyal to Assad, were involved in a week-long power play. In the course of a week alleged anti-Assad rebels shot down a Russian plane, and pro-Assad forces bombed the same area. A chemical attack supposedly by the regime on civilians is reported. Russians launch air strikes. U.N. declares an extreme humanitarian crisis and announces a ceasefire. Fighting escalates between Kurds and Turks. Pro-Assad forces attack the U.S-backed fighters. The U.S. launches an air strike. Turkish helicopter is shot down by Kurds. This is only one week. This is all agenda-based fighting, this is all ignorant of the mass innocent civilian casualty. 

This is an international war. 

The U.N. security council has failed its responsibility. They failed to stop the war, and above all, they failed to protect the civilians and they continue to fail. The council recently issued a ceasefire but even its impact is questionable as it discludes some of the biggest jihadist rebel groups. 

Does anybody have a plan?

It is the passivity in taking action against the brutality — intended or unintended — that is the overarching problem and the reason the Syrian crisis is only accelerating. Not addressing this situation as the undeniable international crisis this is, is only preventing appropriate action, and protecting civilians should be a primary concern. 

Malaika Jawed is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year. Her column, "If Not Our Own, Then Someone's," runs on alternate Fridays. 


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Malaika Jawed

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